Friday, May 31, 2013

Why Handmade: Dealing with Artist Block

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop      

We are all familiar with the term “Writer’s Block.” It should come as no surprise that artists experience this phenomenon as well. It comes in many forms. The artistic muse may just not be speaking today. There may be such an overload of creative ideas brewing in the artist’s head that they cannot get the work out fast enough, or make any sense of what is happening. It can be such an over load that it seems easier to just go take a nap. Or perhaps there is no actual block, but there is very little time to utilize the creative energy.

Blank Canvas, photo by Jessica Burko

Currently, I fall in the latter category. I have plenty of ideas in my head firmly established. All I have to do is enter my studio and create. Sounds fairly simple. However, due to family issues that have arisen, there is absolutely no time to enter my studio. Specifically, I am preparing to list my home, so that I will have a house that better accommodates both my family and my art. In the end it will be a positive change for all; however, at the moment I am engrossed in exhausting home improvement projects that leave me too tired to pursue my art. As such, I am experiencing creative overload! When I do finally get that moment when I could do some work in my studio, I am too exhausted to lift my body off my couch.

How do you combat artist block when the energy is all dried up? If it is just for a day, or even two, take the day off. Go to a park, a museum, or your favorite nature trail. Take a nap and watch your favorite movie. Do what you need to do to just recharge your batteries. It’s a lot of mental work to be constantly creative, and you may need to stop from time to time. However, if you are operating a business, you cannot take excessive time off to recharge. You can also try learning a new craft or revisit a discarded one. The change in pace will recharge and possibly create a new finished piece, even if it is not what you usually do. Or do something mindless but productive. For example, for me there is nothing more repetitive and non-creative than making chain links for necklaces. It is boring, but productive. I can allow my mind to relax and typically after a bit the ideas will start flowing again.

photo by Lucie Wicker Photography

When ideas are so fast and furious that you cannot possibly make them all, perhaps a nap is not unreasonable. It can calm the mind so that you can organize and plan. Make lists of ideas so you do not forget. The list could be useful when you have a block. Draw quick sketches of your ideas. Above all, remember, you are overwhelmed with ideas, not underwhelmed. Some ideas are better than others. Focus on them first.

If you are faced with my problem where you have reasonable ideas but no time what so ever to execute them, find a minute to take notes so that you will not forget when time does open up. It does not take long and can be done when you need a break. If you have 15 to 30 minutes, use it. However, be careful and do not exhaust yourself with no sleep or nothing will get finished!

What do you do to solve your creative blocks and overflows? Do you work yourself to death? Or do you watch reality TV with a bowl of ice cream? Remember, neither solution is wrong all of the time in moderation. Do what works for you!

photo by Lucie Wicker Photography

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